Friday, June 5, 2009

"Royal Pains” Fun, Cotton-Candy TV

Photo from USA Network

USA Network may have a summer hit on their hands with their new series ”Royal Pains”(USA). The show is fun, it’s fresh, it’s sweet and fluffy, and it’s light entertainment, which is perfect fare for the summer viewing season.

The series is about Dr. Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein), who loses his job as a doctor working in the ER when a high profile patient dies after Hank has treated him. That patient had stabilized, so Hank went back to working with a patient that he brought into the ER and who needed more critical care. But the rich patient with ties to the hospital dies. The hospital doesn’t take kindly to Hank’s error and cuts him loose.

Hank’s fiancé, who seemed more in love with the image of marrying a doctor more than marrying Hank himself, decides to postpone the wedding as she doesn’t think Hank is doing enough to get back to work as a doctor. But when Hank sees her postponement and raises her, the marriage is off and she moves out, taking her things with her. Since her things mean most of the contents of the apartment, Hank is left with a chair and a TV and just his moping about not having a job.

Hank’s brother Evan (Paulo Costanzo), who is a CPA, talks Hank into going to the Hamptons with him for the weekend, implying he has a nice hotel to stay at and that they were invited to a posh party. The hotel turns out to be a dive and Evan winds up using a fake identity to get them access to the party at a mansion. While Hank isn’t thrilled with all of this, he at least breaks a smile when he sees all the beautiful women at the party.

Hank gets to use his skills as a doctor when one of the partygoers collapses, and the concierge doctor at the party wrongly assumes she had overdosed on drugs. Hank stops him from making a fatal error, correctly diagnosing it as exposure to insecticide, and stabilizes her, much to the shock of the doctor and to the pleasure of the party’s host, Boris (Campbell Scott). Boris offers Hank money and the chance to stay at his guesthouse for the summer, but Hank declines. Boris is not one to take no for an answer, leaving a gold bar in Hank’s car to thank him for his work.

But as Hank left the party, he meets a woman (Jill Flint) who drives his same make and model of a car, and they seem to have some chemistry.

Word gets around that Hank is a lifesaver, and this brings Hank a few more impromptu cases: a boy who wrecked his dad’s Ferrari and injured his girlfriend then later he bled internally from his own injury (compounded by the fact he is a hemophiliac); and a woman who gets a “flat tire” – one of her breast implants deflated. While Hank works these medical “emergencies”, his brother eggs him on to jump in to being a concierge doctor, and he picks up a physician’s assistant Divya (Reshma Shetty), who has her car already stocked for work. He also finds out that the woman he met leaving the party is Jill Casey, who works at the local hospital known by the rich locals for its horrific care, maybe good for the “citiots” but not for the spoiled wealthy. Of course, by the end of the show, and after I yelled at the TV a few times telling Hand not to be such an idiot and take the money and run, Hank decides to take Boris up on his offer and move in to Boris’ guest house, causing the original concierge doctor there to be booted out.

Hank Lawson is part MacGyver, using whatever tools he has at hand to fix a problem. OK, some of his ideas here are questionable. I admit I raised my eyebrows right at the beginning of the show when Hank declines to wait for an ambulance and instead jury-rigged a way to get his patient to the ER. It seemed to me that by the time he actually got his patient in the car the ambulance would have already been there, but that’s just me. That was the only thing in the show that gave me pause.

This show does not require a lot of thinking or brainpower to watch. It's cotton candy for the brain. In fact, it may be a little like the Hamptons version of CSI Miami, without the orange glow, the crime, and Horatio Caine. But the writing is better, and the scenarios far more enjoyable. If the pilot episode is anything like how the season will progress, male viewers will get plenty of chances to see scantily clad woman. Will viewers tire of seeing the uber-rich flaunt their wealth and act spoiled, wanting to have better medical care than all the plebes? Will they tire of seeing all the big fancy houses crammed with all the expensive toys and “stuff?” Viewers might. But the show is perfect summer fare, and I highly recommend watching, if not for sheer fun and some escapism.

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